Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring pole - ish.

Today I constructed something similar to a spring pole. I want my dad to build me a permanent one in the yard but in the mean time this works awesomely. Pretty much I tied a rope to a rope toy and threw it over a tree branch. I control how high it is and how much give it has... the branch has some spring to it also. Sepp had a BLAST! It was also a great arm workout for me! We did two 15min sessions and he was pretty tired after each one.

The spring pole, although it looks scary is really good exercise. It's crazy to see the power that Sepp has in his jaw, but he's just playing tug.

I let him jump for it and then slowly give so all four feet are on the ground and he can safely pull back on it. I've heard that allowing them to hang [grabbing the toy while suspended] can be dangerous and allow for injury. I think different people have different opinions in terms of what is dangerous. I did let him jump and bite the toy twice and it was high enough that his feet were a few inches from the ground but I didn't keep him up there for long.

Some people consider the spring pole to be related to dog fighting. Honestly, it's just another great way to tire your dog out. If you don't have a high energy, high drive dog, you have no idea how hard it is to make them tired. It's especially hard if you aren't an athlete who runs 20miles a day and can drag your dog along. I'm lucky if I make it a mile going 4mph and that is NOT enough to tire my dog out. I do bike with them when it's nice out and there's always the treadmill - this is just another fun way to play with them.

I have not tried this game with Seth or LiLo. I imagine LiLo would be interested, but I'm not too sure about Seth.

Here are some pictures of Sepp from today:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Patience is a virtue.

Today I had to keep repeating the phrase "I love my dogs" over and over again to stop myself from strangling them both.

Well, strangling the boys anyway.

Don't let the cuteness fool you. They really know how to drive me nuts!

This morning I decided it would be a good idea to work on some obedience. A friend sent me a link to some videos about competition heeling. I really haven't worked on them pivoting since I last posted pictures and I thought today would be the perfect day to work on it. Naturally, my dogs do not catch on as quickly as the malinois in the video. *face palm*

The point of this post plainly is that:
- You need to stop before you kill your dogs.
- Know when it's not working.
- Know when your dog is disinterested or has had enough.
- Don't beat them even though you really want to.

I started out with Seppel. He actually understands moving his hind legs fairly well however, unless I was moving with him either into him or away from him he wouldn't move. Further more I know he could read my body language which progressively turned very stiff and unhappy so he started backing off of the box, laying on it, just doing anything and everything because he didn't want to get into trouble. I have not beaten him, I think really the only time I've physically squished and smashed him was when he attacked LiLo in the truck. However, he always squints or jumps away like he's going to get whacked. I'm 99% sure he was born this way because of his other idiosyncrasies. His owner also said that the first time she put a collar on him he screamed and pitched a giant fit. It's in his personality to be soft. I mean, he doesn't even like to be patted on the chest - he will blink every time your hand "hits" him. This is proving to be really hard because he doesn't like being in my space. When we work obedience at home I have him in a flat collar, we only use the prong for bitework and when he's focused on the decoy I can give him a correction and it doesn't much phase him because he is so focused on getting the guy. Anyway, this whole pivoting thing this morning wasn't working out. I couldn't find my clicker [left it at the barn, oops!]. After speaking out loud how displeased I was - I just stopped. I didn't get nasty with him, I gave him some treats and swapped him out for Seth.

Seth, my star dog, surely he would know what to do. It was almost a chore getting him to stand on the box, and then he acted like he couldn't move his hind end at all. *more face palming*

I threw my hands in the air and just decided to be done.

Seriously, it's hard not to want to throw yourself on the ground and kick and scream and curse your dog. But you have to just stop, end on a happy note, and move on with your life.

I am very pleased to report that we tried again tonight and both Seth and Seppel were on their A game. With Sepp it wasn't nearly as defeating, I had him swinging his butt into me, which gives me an inkling of hope that we WILL get through this whole "Ack, I don't want to touch you!" thing. Seth - well, he was able to get his butt moving back and forth and he stayed on the box!

Today was a very important lesson for me in terms of being patient and just walking away when things aren't going how I had intended.

I swear these dogs teach me a lesson everyday!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bitework. Ths is srs.

Today was a pretty awesome day at training.

Derek - the cute guy - was there. They had him put on a sleeve and join in on the fun.

Derek hid across the field behind blind 5 and Ryan hid in the normal bark & hold blind. I sent Sepp to blind 5. It was funny because I could tell he was surprised to see someone new. I think it was a good thing that we had Derek in the blind because it was something new for him. After that I sent him to Ryan. He didn't bark as well as he has in the past.

We worked on transports without the leash. It was hard for me because I just don't trust Sepp to not sneak a bite. He actually did REALLY well. I need to give him some credit and breathing room because he did pretty well. He just has all of these impulsive tendencies - I just don't trust him to not sneak in a bite!

Then they had Derek get into the spot that we do the bark & hold. Initially Sepp was just leaping around like an idiot, not really barking. I had sent him around an empty, blind 5, and then sent him to Derek. I was just catching up and I could hear his bark change. He started "woofing" defensively and then got into bark mode. Derek was a lot more aggressive than Ryan and had kneed the gate into Seppel and pissed him off! Jennifer said he was like "Huh?" at first and then just got pissed off! We worked a bit on the bark & hold, heeling away etc. I sent him to Derek, and Derek is really tall, so he was leaning over growling and agitating Seppel and Seppel jumped up and bit his hoody! It was so bad but hilarious at the same time.

He was a good sport about it. Then he went on to crack a joke about being single.

Yep, that's right. He's single! And we have matching Sepp holes in our hoodies <3

I hope he helps out in training more because it was an awesome day.

I just need to figure out what the hell I'm doing. I feel like I fumble all over the place, still not sure of what I am doing. Sepp is so fast! I know I am more confident now than I was when we started, but I feel like I still have so much to learn.

We'll be taking a break from bitework this next week. Then April 2nd is our first Advanced Obedience class! I'm very excited to have him in a class setting and see how he does with distractions. I'm also excited to get to take an obedience class, it's been ages since I have been to one. We may get to do a little bit of bitework while we're doing the advanced OB class, Ryan typically isn't in in the evenings but he said he would meet us there a few times to do it. I can't say enough good things about Ryan and Jennifer - I really am just so glad we found them and are able to train with them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Obedience 3/16

I was able to get some video yesterday [Saturday] of the boys and their obedience.

Seppel is still trying to learn how to finish left and also come around me from the right side. I use the gate to help get him used to coming in close. If you watch Sepp and then watch Seth - Seth is much happier to be in my space than Seppel is.

I hate to admit it, but Seth is a much easier dog to train! Well, okay, it's good to admit it because at least Seppel is teaching me to be a better dog handler. Just the same it has been a real struggle.

I'm happy with Seppel's progress and I know with time and experience he will only get better!

Seth is just learning how to back up. I didn't get footage of it because he was struggling with it, but he can back up away from me on command. He just has problems backing up next to me. I'll have to try to get some updated video. Letting him "sleep on it"[thanks Kristen!] really seemed to help the process, I asked him to do it a week later from the last video and he was backing up with no problem! This video just kind of shows the basics of what he knows. Sepp is fun, but Seth is fun in a different way - I love watching him work.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Training 3/13

This post is a bit overdue but this week has just been a tiring week - not sure why, it just has been tiring.

Wednesday we went to training. I brought Seth and Seppel. We worked with Ryan again, we went through the whole Schutzhund protection routine. Seppel was totally wound up. He did pretty well other than doing some serious forging when we did transports and he tried to play dirty a few times and bite when he wasn't supposed to.

I think we're to the point where we just need to start fine tuning everything.

The best part of training on Wednesday [besides the cute guy!], was that Seppel barked! I was even able to send him from in front of the decoy, and he barked! This is the first time we've been able to do this without him making his weird noises. It was very exciting, it's awesome to see him progress. I still think I suck sometimes as a handler, but I feel like I'm getting better and gaining more confidence as I continue to learn more about what we are doing.

After protection we went tracking. I didn't know we were going to track so I had to borrow some bait. We went out to Jennifer's folks place, they have 20 acres. I laid out tracks for both Seth and Seppel. Seth I put food about 4-5 steps apart, Seppel, I put food in every step. Both of the boys did GREAT! Seppel tracked the best he has probably ever tracked for me! When we went to the tracking field Derek [the cute guy from like... two weeks ago!] was there with his GSD Niko. We got to watch his dog track, which was cool because his dog is a lot more advanced so it was cool to see his dog in action. Plus - did I mention, Derek is pretty cute ;)

Our homework for tracking is introducing articles. I hope the weather will get better and we can start practicing. I definitely need to track more. They showed me some different track laying techniques - so we're ready. I was so pleased that both boys did so well since we haven't tracked in some time. It's also something that doesn't come natural for Seppel, so I was so glad that he did so well.

I've been working on obedience with both of the boys. With Seth I'm working on backing with him next to me. He's close to getting it, he's just grasped what "back" means. I hope to get some video this weekend working them. With Seppel we're working on finishing left, and finishing by coming behind me and sitting on my left. It's a work in progress, his 'side' isn't too bad, but he doesn't totally understand walking behind me just yet.

Tonight I also got a wild hair and put the dogs on the treadmill. I love how they compete to get on it - it's become a very fun and positive event in our house. We need to get back into it. When the weather is nice I prefer to bike, but it looks like we're in for some rain. They just all do better when they've spent some energy.. well, they being the boys as I want to spare LiLo's hips. Plus - she's "the good dog". She doesn't need no stinkin' treadmill hehe.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Did you really just do that?

Yesterday Seppel almost gave me a heart attack!

My day already started out super crappy. My car got egged and my horse dumped my friend.

I was out washing the egg off of my car when a stray Pit Bull type dog was running down the street. I started walking towards the dog because I was going to see if I could catch it [he had a collar on]. Then, out of the corner of my eye I see Seppel climbing the fence!!!!! I'm yelling at him to stop but he's already halfway over.

I run over because all I can think of is that I'm going to have to break up a dog fight. He pulls himself all the way over and the two dogs sniff. I run up there and Seppel jumps sideways away from the dog. I am telling him to come and he's like "Uh, you're angry. I don't want to come to you." and I'm like I really want to throttle you right now!  But I put on my happy voice[this was SO hard, I wanted to kill him!] and Seppel came to me, and actually ran towards the gate, but then back to me. I was trying to get him back to the gate when the other dog comes back up to him, Sepp is having a hard time ignoring this dog. Mind you, Sepp doesn't have a collar on so I have nothing to grab. They start to posture and I'm like "Seppel!!!!" and he breaks away again. At this point the other dog takes off, I put Seppel back in the fence.

Luckily the neighbor recognized the dog and was able to get him home safe.

Seriously, I thought I was going to have a stroke! We fenced off the corner so hopefully Seppel won't have a need/want to try to climb out again. I will keep a close eye on him obviously, but he did it with me out there, so it's not like he wasn't being supervised.

I just think he was so amped up that he couldn't stop himself. The impulsive side took over. 

I'm very thankful that he didn't run off and that he didn't attack that dog. I am always worried about dog aggression and worried about what he could be capable of. But ultimately he's pretty much like my other dogs. He's not out to kill every dog he sees which makes me feel better. This situation was SO naughty, but I'm glad that the outcome was okay.

It cracks me up too how much dogs read into our voice and body language. Even when you want to kill them, you have to be nice if you want them to come to you. Even though it's incredibly hard to do, sometimes you just gotta break out the sweet voice. You know, as they say, you catch more bees with honey!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Training Today

I took Seth and Seppel down to Salem for training today, we had a blast!!

We worked Sepp first. We actually started with the bark & hold, we usually don't because he's too worked up. I sent him around "blind 5" (just learned that's the name of the blind across the field haha)  and from there he ran across the field to where our decoy was hiding - the blind with the gate in front of it that we practice the bark & hold. As I'm running to catch up with him I could hear him barking!! We then worked on heeling from the decoy... It was really hard to get him focused on heeling, but we'll get there.

We worked on some transports without the leash, sometimes he forges ahead but our trainer said a lot of dogs do in anticipation of the attack. It started to rain so we went inside. We worked on him engaging the decoy, getting a bite, and me calling him to me to heel. That didn't go so well because he's all about the decoy. It's crazy because he can be so impulsive sometimes but other times he is so controlled. We did a modified courage test where he has to sit and stay while the decoy comes at us, as long as he stays I can send him for a bite. HE WAS SO GOOD!!! He was so controlled, I mean it even shocked me how well he was listening. A year ago he never would have been so patient, he's come so far!

After bite work we did some obedience. Homework is to teach him to stand and stay, and to have him down and move to a sitting position on a 6ft lead.

I brought Seth out after Seppel. We stood in the middle of he building and Ryan peered into the doorway. It took a little bit but once Ryan got a little more intimidating Seth started barking like a mad man. It made me laugh because he was doing it somewhat out of excitement and it was funny to watch. Our homework is to try to build toy/tug drive. Seth has prey drive but not nearly as high as Seppel's. I don't know if he will ever go for he bite sleeve but it's fun to play around with him and he was SO excited to be there today!

I feel so lucky/fortunate we found Ryan and Jennifer, they are really nice supportive people and I am so glad we have the opportunity to train with them. A year ago I wouldn't have thought we would be here.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Pivot.

Some time ago, back when I was training in washington we were introduced to the pivot. At the time I didn't fully understand the mechanics - other than I taught Seth and Seppel how to stand on an upside down dish. Here is an early video of that:

Basically, this was teaching the dogs to target. I was told not to lure them onto the dish but that just isn't how I do things. To teach them to stand on the dish I lured them onto it and when they stepped on it I gave them a treat. This transformed into them placing both feet on the dish. When they actually start to 'get it' you can throw your treats off to the side, so they have to get off, get the treat, and then get back on again.

Nowadays they know when I put something down for them to stand on - to stand on it. Recently I saw a video on how to teach the pivot. In washington the woman showing us how to do it lured the dog's head around with food. My dogs did not understand this and would fall off or step off of the dish. Today teaching them to pivot I simply moved around the dish, kind of into them and when they moved their hind legs I gave them a treat. Both Seth and Seppel learned this pretty quickly. I wish I had gotten video!Once they understand how to move their butts around I am going to try standing next to them and will then try to lure their head around to encourage them to pivot into me. So if the dog is on my left, I will use my left hand to lure their head to the left to encourage them to pivot into me. We aren't quite there yet!

The pivot teaches your dog to use their hind end. In obedience and Rally this can help tighten up your dog's heeling, so when you make a left or right turn they learn to move their booty into place when you turn.

Here are a few pictures of the boys practicing: